But Funeral Costs will not fall for everyone in Scotland….
Funeral costs in Scotland should fall slightly, but apparently the Coop has decided to keep the £170 saving rather than pass it on to consumers, according to our informant. No doubt many others will do the same – yet another reason for Scots to contact us for independent advice!
So how has all this come about? Why should funeral costs Scotland drop and not the rest of the UK?
Scotland Health and Community Care
Families no longer required to pay fees for cremation forms.
Fees for cremation forms signed by doctors will no longer apply in Scotland from May 2015, as a new system of death certification comes into effect. This will cut funeral costs in Scotland. At least, a little.
The crematoria medical referee system is to be abolished, meaning that next of kin in Scotland will no longer have to pay around £170 for paperwork on their loved one’s cremation. The move will save bereaved families around £5.5 million every year.
(Ed: it remains to be seen whether funeral plan providers will just pocket the extra £170 or use it to add value to the funeral.)
Under the Certification of Death Act, passed by the Scottish Parliament, the quality and accuracy of death certificates will be improved. This will create a better understanding of the actual causes of death, allowing NHS resources to be targeted more effectively. It will also provide better healthcare information to families to enable them to manage their own health where some conditions may run in families.
For the first time, relatives will have the right to ask for a review of the information on the certificate if they have any concerns. Reviews will be carried out by an independent team at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Assistance with post-mortem examinations will also be provided to bereaved families dealing with a death that has happened abroad. Families will be able to apply for help, including financial help, to arrange for a post-mortem.
Some death certificates will be selected at random and reviewed to ensure that the information has been completed correctly.
On the subject of funeral costs in Scotland, Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:
“Dealing with the death of a loved one is a difficult and traumatic experience. It can also be an expensive process, so I’m pleased that we have been able to improve the system and abolish cremation fees.
“It’s important that the death certification process is rigorous. The recorded information should be both correct and sufficiently detailed that can improve future health care for families and communities. By improving the certification process we can ensure this continues to be the case.
“In the rare cases where a family has concerns or complaints about what has been included on the death certificate, it’s entirely right that they should be able to request a review. For that reason we have introduced a right to an independent review of the death certificate.”
Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review said “We suspect that many funeral plan companies will just keep the extra £170 from Scottish funerals as a contribution towards their overheads. But we will be pressing for discounts for our Scottish clients. Please do contact us if you live in Scotland and are thinking of taking out a funeral plan: the more enquiries, the more pressure we can put on the funeral plan companies as the UK’s leading Independent Funeral Plan Adviser.”
According to the Scottish Government there are roughly 55,000 deaths in Scotland each year, although the number fluctuates.
Similar changes to death certification rules are proposed in England and Wales, but Scotland is the first UK nation to bring in legislation. So funeral costs in Scotland (at least for cremation) should drop by around £170 compared with the rest of the UK.
Why this may not be such a good idea….
Legislation was prompted in part by recommendations arising from the crimes of Dr Harold Shipman, to stop any malpractice and make sure there is proper scrutiny of the death certification process, whatever method of funeral is chosen. At least the overall cost of funerals in Scotland should be eased, though funeral cost inflation will probably eat the savings up in just a few months. That is why prepaid plans are so worthwhile.